When I tell people what my degree was – Philosophy Politics and Economics, I am often asked if I’m aiming go into politics or even become the next prime minister. It’s not an unfair assumption as perhaps more than any other degree, PPE has become associated with Prime Ministers and MPs: such as Rishi Sunak, David Cameron and Ed Miliband to name a few. It’s also a group that is known to be predominantly male, reflecting the general political landscape.
As of 2023 225 out of 650 members of parliament are women which is just 35%. While this number has increased from 13 years ago in 2010 when there was just 22%, it seems strange that where 50% of people in the UK are female, they are predominantly represented by men.
However, there are, and have been some extraordinary women in politics, philosophy and economics, which hopefully will act as role models for current and future generations. Below are just a few…
After getting her PPE at Oxford, Rohini’s research has been varied, most recently it has been on ways in which to make the government more accountable to its citizens, such as strengthening women’s economic and political opportunities. She has also received an award for promoting the success of women in the economics profession and is currently a professor at Yale University.
Lisa D Cook
Lisa DeNell Cook made history in 2022 by becoming the first Black woman on the Federal Reserve’s board (helps implement USA monetary policy). As a child she was involved with the desegregation of schools in America and today is regarded as one of the few prominent black female economists. She has also gained attention within academia for mentoring black women and advocating for their inclusion in the field of economics.
Mary Wollstonecraft was born in 1759 and today is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers. However, after her death her relationships and untypical personal life was largely what she was known for. It was only later when the feminist movement gained strength, that her forward-thinking ideas around promoting women’s equality and criticising conventional femininity were recognised for their importance.
Perhaps the most well-known women in American politics, Kamala Harris has made history as the first female vice president, as well as the first African-American and first Asian-American vice president. She studied political science and economics as well as law, before being elected attorney general and later a senator.
Ursula Von der Leyden
Ursula Von der Leyden is the current President of the European commission (head of the European union) and the first women to take the position. She studied Economics in London and graduated as a physician who specialised in women’s health. She was later the first woman to serve as German defence minister and when she left office, she was the only minister to have served continuously in Angela Merkel’s cabinet since Merkel became chancellor.